Yesterday, March 25th, will be remembered as one of the most influential days in the history of the Cuban exile community in Miami. Tens of thousands heeded Gloria Estefan in her call to March silently, in all white, to honor Las Dames de Blanco, who have persistently marched through the streets of Havana over the past seven years to honor their husbands, fathers, and sons who are Cuban political prisoners.
Numerous outcomes came from this organized march on Miami’s famous Calle Ocho. Media coverage, ranging from local newspapers and news stations to international media outlets, covered the march in Miami, raising awareness of the ongoing Cuban cause. Secondly, other marches occurred on the campus of Harvard University, or will occur in Los Angeles (accompanied by award winning actor Andy Garcia) and New York City this Sunday, emulating the march that look place in Miami. Although they will not attract the same number of participants, the impact each of these marches will have through their respective local media outlets will continue the outreach of this powerful message.
While the sudden growth in awareness due to this march is incredibly powerful, the most powerful outcome is the unity displayed by the Cuban American exile community. In my 19 years of being in the United States, besides the Elian Gonzalez ordeal, I have never seen a more united front of Cuban American exiles supporting one cause. This was a Cuban American exile community that over the past decade have voted almost evenly across party lines in all elections (most notably the 2008 presidential election), taken to the streets in protests against other exiles with different opinions than their own, and have been weakened and unorganized in their efforts to spread the message of the human rights violations occurring in Cuba.
Not anymore! Yesterday marked a new beginning in the history of the Cuban American exile community. Democrats and Republicans, young and old, all gathered, in white, and marched with a common goal. The atmosphere in the march itself was vibrant, and represented a community empowered to find new ways to work together to raise awareness of the Cuban cause.
Eramos Unidos en Diversity.
Miguel Cruz is a senior at the University of Texas in Austin. He will graduate this May with a degree in Aerospace Engineering, and will be joining Lockheed Martin in June.